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Who’s responsible when an airplane crashes?

Increased traffic means increased risk, in the air as well as on the road. In general, airplane travel is considered a safe mode of transportation, even though airplane crashes result in more frequent fatalities and can result in lawsuits involving serious personal injuries as well as wrongful death charges. Nonetheless, there are cases in which pilots or passengers manage to survive air accidents with minimal injuries or none at all. Remember Captain Sullenberger who made a safe emergency landing on the Hudson River? If you have suffered a personal injury, of someone you love has suffered wrongful death, as a result of an aircraft accident, you should hire a highly competent personal injury attorney as soon as possible to help you receive the compensation you deserve. What are the causes of airplane accidents? There are, of course, aviation accidents that can be blamed on terrible weather conditions or terrorism. The majority of aircraft accidents, however, are caused by one of the following:

  • Faulty equipment
  • Negligence of federal air traffic controllers
  • Negligence of flight service station employees
  • Pilot error
  • Structural defects or problems with design of the aircraft
  • Violations of FAA regulations

It should be noted that the term “general aviation accidents” covers not only small planes and large commercial jets, but charter flights, pleasure crafts, helicopters, and hang gliders. Who is in charge of aircraft safety? There are two federal agencies assigned to regulate air safety and to investigate all aviation accidents, in the U.S. — the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). While the FAA sets standards for aircraft manufacture, flight operations and pilot conduct, and enforces penalties where there is fault, the NTSB performs investigations after aircraft accidents and recommends alterations in safety standards to prevent future disasters. Can you file a personal injury claim for an airplane accident? Yes, after discussing your options with an experienced personal injury attorney, you may decide to pursue a legal claim against the parties believed to be liable. Whether you have a successful case will depend on the cause of the accident. Your attorney will carefully follow the investigation of the crash to determine where responsibility lies. It may rest with the owner and/or operator of the aircraft, the manufacturer of the aircraft or its parts, those who maintain the vehicle, or, even, in some cases, the federal government. In many cases, the judge or jury may determine that there is “comparative fault,” meaning, for example, that both the pilot and the manufacturer bear some portion of responsibility. Settling a claim after an aircraft accident is a complicated process. It is essential that you engage the services of a well-respected personal injury attorney experienced in this particular aspect of the law.